• Sunday Rumblings: A rumor out of Kansas City or just speculation? Plus, a Washburn update
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    Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star writes about the Yanks’ supposed interest in Brian Bannister. He believes that the Yanks could swap Melky Cabrera for Bannister. This would be a trade of two below-average players making no money and wouldn’t serve to make either team better. Brian Bannister, in fact, is probably not an upgrade over Darrell Rasner. If this story contains more than just idle musings, I’d be surprised.

    Update on Jarrod Washburn (1:15 p.m.): The game is underway in Toronto, and Jarrod Washburn is on the mound for the Mariners. It seems as though trade talks aren’t as close to completion as has been reported. If Washburn were anywhere close to being dealt, he wouldn’t be pitching today.
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  • The A-Rod/Hansen incident, explained
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    When Craig Hansen hit Alex Rodriguez with a fastball yesterday, Fenway Park classlessly erupted in howls. It was retribution for Joba Chamberlain’s not hitting Youkilis, and my dad, watching at a bar in the Berkshires, said that a Red Sox fan near him hoped that A-Rod was hurt. Gotta love Red Sox fans. Anyway, Jack Curry checked in on this escalating situation, and I have a sinking feeling this whole ridiculous thing isn’t over yet. · (85) ·

Throughout his relatively successful Boston career, Tim Wakefield hasn’t exactly had the Yankees’ number. Over 46 games and 29 starts, Wakefield has thrown 208.1 innings against the Yankees. He has a 9-16 record and a 5.01 ERA against the Bombers.

So the Yankees, riding a seven-game winning streak and just two games behind the Red Sox, didn’t really need to face Tim Wakefield today. But, hey, who’s complaining?

Three hours and twenty-eight innings later, in a game that included an over-the-top retaliation for Joba’s missing Kevin Youkilis on Friday, the Yanks emerged the 10-3 victors over the Red Sox. The team is 58-45, just one game — two in the win column — behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card lead. Since the All Star break, the Yankees are 8-0, and they no longer lose. Also, Mike always writes the game thread. I’m sensing a trend.

Today’s game started out with a bit of a rocky first inning. Alex Rodriguez, later the victim of retaliation off the arm of Craig Hansen, committed an error that led to two unearned runs. With this error, Andy Pettitte nearly reached 50 pitches by the second inning, but then things turned around. The Yanks plated one in the third, two in the fourth and four in the sixth to break the game wide open. While a J.D. Drew home run in the sixth cut the Yanks’ lead to four, three runs in the eighth put the game away for good.

In the end, Andy Pettitte had another stellar outing in a season full of them. He threw six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven. His ERA now stands at 3.76, and he’s 12-7 on the year. Joba, Moose and Pettitte make a rather effective threesome, eh?

After Pettitte left, the bullpen — sans the useless LaTroy Hawkins — took over. While Jose Veras, echoing Kyle Farnsworth, pitched himself into trouble by allowing two baserunners in 0.1 innings, Damaso Marte, newly arrived from Pittsburgh, struck out David Ortiz on four pitches. Edwar Ramirez retired Manny Ramirez and threw a scoreless eighth while David Robertson ended the formality with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Offensively, eight Yankees scored runs, and Robinson Cano led the way. Cano, now 18 for 35 (.514) since the All Star Break, knocked out three hits and drove in three runs. He also walked for the first time since the break. As much as any pitcher on this team, Cano has been as responsible for the Yanks’ second-half surge as anyone else, and it’s comforting to see his average climbing up to .270. Slumps end; good teams win.

Later tonight, baring a trade, Sidney Ponson will take the mound in an effort to deliver the Yanks their ninth strength win. Ponson has allowed nearly two baserunners an inning and faces the very effective Jon Lester. He will have his work cut out for him. But these are the post-All Star Break Yankees and anything is possible. They’re tired in the loss column with the Red Sox, and they’re three games behind the Rays. They’re buyers at the trade deadline, and anything is possible.

Categories : Game Stories
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So with three starters traded away, Scranton’s left with Al Aceves, Kei Igawa & IPK in their rotation. Chad Jennings says that Alan Horne will rejoin the team and start Monday, but Wednesday’s starter is still up in the air. Maybe Phil Coke or Jason Jones gets bumped up from Trenton, but word is that Coke will start having his innings limited. Both guys certainly deserve it, but either way they’d just be keeping the spot warm for Phil Hughes.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Rochester)
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 3
Eric Duncan & Juan Miranda: both 0 for 4 – E-Dunc K’ed
Matt Carson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 2 K – threw a runner out at first from CF
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch)
Ben Broussard & Chris Stewart: both 1 for 3 – Broussard was hit by a pitch, scored a run & K’ed … Stewart drove in a run & picked a runer off first with a snap throw
JD Closser: 3 for 3, 1 RBI – 10 for his last 22 (.455)
Greg Porter: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 1 HB
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0-13 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – not one ground ball? sheesh
Steven Jackson: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 3 baserunners allowed in his last 6.2 IP
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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  • Washburn could be New York-bound shortly
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    According to Jon Heyman, the Yanks and Mariners “may be close” on a deal to bring Jarrod Washburn to New York. The move would be a strict salary dump; the Yanks would take on all of Washburn’s contract and would not send anyone to Seattle. Washburn, a clear upgrade over Sidney Ponson or Darrell Rasner, is scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon’s Mariners-Blue Jay. So keep your eye on the game in Toronto; if Washburn is scratched or removed early, expect him in the Bronx sooner rather than later. We’ll wrap up today’s excellent 10-3 victory over the Red Sox later.

    Update: Via MLBTR comes word that the M’s are holding up the deal because they want, according to Ken Rosenthal, a “top prospect.” They could probably draw out a prospect from the Yanks but not a top one in a salary dump. Keep your eye on tomorrow’s probables and the M’s-Jays game for more indications of a possible trade.
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Man is it a good time to be a Yankees’ fan, or what? The team is winning, the brain trust is swinging deals to fill some holes, Joba Chamberlain is becoming a top-of-the-rotation force right before our eyes, but most importantly (and this is worth repeating) the team is winning.

Just a few short weeks ago people were writing this team off. “Admit it, this is a transition year” and “time to start looking towards 2009″ were two common phrases we saw, and now when you watch the team you expect them to come through and pull out a win. They’re winning playoff type games, games that are won with pitching, defense and timely hitting against good pitchers, not games that are won by bludgeoning mediocre starting pitching. Been a while since we’ve been able to say that.

The trade has been made official, and the new guys are in the house. They take on Tim Wakefield, who’s been unbelievable for two months now.

1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. X, LF – look, now there’s only TWO blackholes in the lineup!
8. Melky, CF
9. Molina, C

And on the mound, Andy “2.36 ERA in my last 7 starts” Pettitte.

Notes: There’s been a flurry of roster moves, so get caught up here … Manny’s in the lineup for Boston because they’re going to discipline him if he isn’t … we play today, we win today, das it

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Igawa, LaTroy DFA; Gardner to AAA
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    Just a quick update before we get to the game. According to Ed Price, the Yankees have removed Kei Igawa from the 40-man roster. He passed through waivers unclaimed. To make room on the 25-man roster for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady, the Yankees have optioned Brett Gardner to AAA, and have DFA LaTroy Hawkins, according to WFAN. Oh, happy day!

    According to Buster Olney, the Yanks are still working on a deal for Jarrod Washburn, which would be a salary dump move.

    We don’t have the full lineups yet, but Nady is in the lineup, playing left field and batting 7th. You have to assume it’s the lineup as usual through five, Cano hitting sixth, and then Cabrera 8th and Molina 9th.
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  • The Hughes and Pavano rehab clocks are soon to tick
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    According to Bryan Hoch at MLB.com, the race is on for two injured Yankees. On Monday, Phil Hughes will toss two innings in a rehab start for the GCL Yankees, but the bigger story arrives the next day. As long as he doesn’t hurt himself reaching for a bowl of cereal makes it through a BP session today, Carl Pavano will throw a pair of frames on Tuesday. So if all goes according to plan — and that’s a big if — Pavano could be back in the Bronx by August 28th when his 30-day rehab clock runs out. And, yes, those were pigs that just went flying past your window. · (14) ·

Is Xavier Nady in the midst of a career year? Most people would say yes.

His batting average, .330, is .050 above his career high. Meanwhile, his IsoD — that is, the difference between his batting average and on base perentage — is exactly the same as last year, and is relatively consistent with his earlier career. Anyone who reads Baseball Prospectus can tell you that spikes in batting average without a corresponding spike in relative OBP (that is, IsoD) raises a red flag.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn the mistake in making a broad generalization for a single player. Just because a sacrifice bunt statistically doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that we should abolish it from the strategy book. Just because the hit and run fails often doesn’t mean we should kill the manager when he calls for one. Just because we’ve found that OBP and SLG are more important than BA doesn’t mean we should go out and get a team of Adam Dunns (though having one would be awful nice).

In 2005, when he hit .261/.321/.439, Nady showed some pretty hefty splits. He hit .223/.270/.431 against righties, while shellacking lefties to the tune of .323/.400/.452. In 2006, the season he split between the Mets and Pirates, he hit .280/.337/.453. His splits were even more drastic: .263/.312/.424 against righties, .336/.418/.551 against lefties. Considering how many more righties the typical player faces than lefties — Nady’s plate appearances were split 390 to 122 — he wasn’t looking like a guy you wanted in the lineup every day.

In 2007, things took a turn for the better. His overall numbers were along the same lines as 2006: .278/.330/.476. Yet his splits were much more even. Against lefties he hit .295/.356/.463. Against righties he hit .274/.322/.479. While those aren’t ideal numbers against righties, it is still an OPS over .800. More importantly, it was an improvement.

This year, he’s showing a pattern similar to 2007, though the tide has risen. Overall, he’s at .330/.383/.535. Against lefties, that’s .313/.434/.522, and against righties it’s .335/.368/.538 — a .956 OPS vs. a .907 OPS.

Will Nady maintain these stellar numbers? We can’t be certain. But over the last two years, as he has entered his prime, he has shown a greater competency against right-handed pitchers. That could be what turns him from a fringe starter into a solid one.

Categories : Analysis
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When history — in the form of Monday’s tabloids — comes to judge yesterday’s Yankee acquisition of OF Xavier Nady and LHP Damaso Marte, columnists will be rushing to pass judgment on a trade that changes the look of the 2008 Yankees. But it isn’t that simple; it never really is.

Right away, this trade makes the Yankees better, and on the face of it, they gave up a lot of nothing. Offensively, they now have a bat to sit in for — but not truly replace — Hideki Matsui or Jorge Posada while at the same time they no longer will trot out a lineup with two of Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Justin Christian. On the year, Xavier Nady has been one of the NL’s best hitters. He’s sporting a .330/.383/.535 batting line in 360 plate appearances. Melky wishes he were that good.

But the questions surrounding Nady are all about future production. Is Nady having a break-out season or is he just enjoying a good four months? His career numbers — .281/.337/.456 — don’t suggest that this stretch is anything more than a hot streak, but at age 29, he could be putting it all together. Either way, the Yankees expect him to bat seventh, and he’s bound to fill that spot more than adequately.

On the pitching front, the Yankees landed a set-up man who also happens to be a lefty. This year, Damaso Marte, the one-time Yankee farmhand once traded for Enrique Wilson, has thrown 46.2 innings and has recorded 47 strike outs. He’s allowed 38 hits, 16 walks and just four home runs with an ERA of 3.47. Even though his splits indicate more success against righties, Marte has struck out 22 of the 59 lefties to face him.

With Marte joining the team, the Yanks do have the opportunity to ensure that this trade makes the bullpen worse, albeit only slightly. If they don’t DFA LaTroy Hawkins, by far the worst pitcher in the bullpen, then Marte will push a deserving and effective reliever out of the Bronx. The only way LaTroy stays is if Dan Giese gets sent back to AAA, but I still think Giese should get the call over Hawkins.

That’s the short-term prognosis. These moves help the Yankees shore up their offense and fortify their strong bullpen. But the long-term picture — analyzed here with an assist from Mike — is more complicated, and the trade really hinges on what Jose Tabata does and does not do over the next few seasons.

For starters, George Kontos and Phil Coke are simply throw-ins. Unless the stars align perfectly, Kontos will probably never see the Major Leagues. While Coke — disappointed with the trade — could be a potential fifth starter or long reliever, he is, in the words of Mike, “easily replaceable.” Plus, the Yankees have a surplus of arms, and trades like these are always made from strengths. See ya later, Kontos and Coke.

So the prime pieces are Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata. In a way, they may have sold high on one, low on the other. Now, Ohlendorf we know. He’s got the velocity, but does he have the stuff? In 40 Major League innings this year, Ohlendorf fooled no one. He allowed 50 hits and seven home runs, an exorbitant amount for a supposed sinkerball pitcher. He had a 6.53 ERA with a 1.725 WHIP, and opponents were hitting .299/.374/.473 against him.

While he’s thrown somewhat batter in the Minors of late as the Yanks attempted to convert him back into a starter, his numbers still aren’t very overwhelming. His move back to the rotation, however, carried with it a bit of hype, and the Yanks may actually have sold high on him simply because starters are more valuable than relievers. It’s doubtful, as Mike says, that he’ll ever be more useful than Marte out of the pen, and his ability to succeed as a starter is up in the air. As this was his second trade in about 18 months, he was rather resigned to his fate.

How about Jose Tabata? The once-untouchable Tabata — the Yanks wouldn’t trade him for Bobby Abreu in 2006 — has seen his stock plummet this year. Soon to be 20, Tabata is hitting .248/.320/.310 at AA and has suffered through attitude and injury problems this year. Corner outfielders who can’t hit for power and aren’t overwhelmingly fast don’t survive long in the Majors.

Still, Tabata is one of the youngest players in the Eastern League and has plenty of time left to turn things around. He could be the next Drew Hensen or Eric Duncan or he could be a bona fide Major Leaguer. Time will tell.

So then the question is: Will Jose Tabata ever be better than Xavier Nady? Mike says that odds are against it, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Right now, this trade makes the team better today, and for 2008, it’s a very good trade. The Yanks landed what they needed without giving up too much, if anything at all. While, in five years, we could be singing a different tune, I’d still pull the trigger on this one any day.

Update by Mike (11:55): The trade has been reconfigured: Dan McCutchen & Jeff Karstens are heading to the Steel City instead of Coke & Kontos. The analysis doesn’t change much, except that these two are a level closer to the bigs. Karstens is pretty bad as we all know, and he would have been out of options next year anyway. McCutchen’s pitching well, but a little he’s two months away from his 26th birthday, so he is what he is, a solid back-end/middle relief guy.

I’m not sure what happened, maybe they found something in someone’s medicals?

Another update by Mike (12:10): Pete updated his post to say that the Pirates selected McCutchen & Karstens from a pool of players that also included Coke & Kontos. Makes sense.

Categories : Analysis
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